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This issue came up when I was asking to reopen this question:

How to support a friend with an 'insignificant' problem?

At first I just poked the "reopen" button and dropped a comment on one of the close-voters, chosen at random. I wasn't sure if that was sufficient, so I opened a meta question about the reopening:

Asking to reopen a question (How to support a friend with an insignificant problem)

So ...

Specifically, is it required/customary to back up a "reopen" vote with a meta question, or is that gilding the lily?

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  • There are lots of examples of requests to reopen on this meta... Is there a reason you're not sure that this is an acceptable process?
    – Catija StaffMod
    Nov 2 '17 at 1:49
  • @Catija I'm not trying to challenge the process; I'm trying to make sure I'm adhering to it. Specifically, is it required or customary to back up a "reopen" vote with a meta question? I am assuming it is, just like how with answers we say, then back up. But I wanted to check.
    – akaioi
    Nov 2 '17 at 1:51
  • Your question doesn't ask "do I have to open a meta question?". It asks "is it acceptable to open a meta question?" Perhaps an edit is in order to be more clear?
    – Catija StaffMod
    Nov 2 '17 at 1:52
  • @Catija I have done this.
    – akaioi
    Nov 2 '17 at 1:57
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As @Catija said: The only thing you need to do is vote to reopen. But you did better (in my opinion).

At first I just poked the "reopen" button and dropped a comment on one of the close-voters, chosen at random.

Perfect! :D

I like seeing comments explaining why something should be reopened. And in this case, I was one that left a comment stating why it shouldn't be reopened yet, so it's good of you to tag me.

I've been frustrated way too many times when I put a question on hold as too broad, put a barrage of questions in the comments, only to see it reopened without any constructive feedback. I myself prefer to know why the information I ask for isn't deemed necessary to answer the question.

I think making a meta is good as well, it avoids dragging on the discussion in the comments. Only point you could have improved here is dropping a link to that meta question in the comments underneath the question. Then, other users will know they can discuss their views on that meta as well, instead of in comments.

Although these are all good actions to undertake, we can't make them 'required' before a question can be reopened. Like @Catija said: The only thing needed to reopen a question is cast that reopen vote and put it in the review queue. Leaving a comment/meta greatly improves your chances though (I think).

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  • In my opinion, a question that got closed by 5 voting members and then got reopened by without being significantly improved by editing should be considered as mis-closed in the first place, because 5 reopen-enabled users are very unlikely to simply reopen a Q that was correctly closed by 5 other voters, @Tinkeringbell. If the Q gets closed again by 5 different users, it shows a major debate over that question. I have also always wondered how your English reads so much like native speakers', since you live in the Netherlands! I write non-native E myself, but improved a lot after joining SE. Nov 2 '17 at 12:43
  • @EnglishStudent Lot's of education I guess... we start learning English at age 11/12 :) with regards to the should be considered as mis-closed in the first place --> That's fine :) I just like to know why it was mis-closed/why it doesn't need the editing I try to propose in addition to my close-votes ;) I'm not necessarily saying here that I dislike all re-open votes that are cast without editing, but I'd like to see some type of constructive argument as to why no further editing is necessary.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Nov 2 '17 at 12:49
  • Thanks for clarifying about the English @Tineringbell. When a member casts a reopen vote without substantial corrective editing, they are expressing disagreement with the original close reason. That is why no further editing is necessary. Example: somebody closed a question as too broad. If I think it is not too broad then I will vote to reopen. Of course 5 members need to agree it is not too broad, even without editing to narrow its scope, before the question can be reopened in its original condition. I do think timely constructive discussion can facilitate & speed up the process on meta. Nov 2 '17 at 12:56
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    @EnglishStudent Why are 5 reopen voters automatically right and the 5 close voters automatically wrong in this case? Maybe the close voters see more potential for improvement (and therefore, in effect, better answers for the OP) that escaped the reopen voters? Nov 2 '17 at 13:07
  • It's a general point of etiquette followed on many Stack Exchange sites that users will not contradict the wisdom of 5 close voters unless the question was substantially edited to improve, or closed by a clear case of error. When an early Q of mine was closed on English.SE in April 2017, a senior member advised that once a Q is closed by 5 voters or a moderator, 5 other voters or another moderator need very compelling reasons to vote to reopen. In short it's a matter of site policy and not a matter of opinion @Anne Daunted.A closed Q is rarely reopened without significant corrective editing. Nov 2 '17 at 13:15
  • @EnglishStudent I am only talking about IPS.SE here, don't know about English.SE for example. So if a question is reopened without editing, the close voters must have been wrong, there can be no doubt about it and it's not a matter of opinion, since it's chiseled in stone. Thanks! Nov 2 '17 at 13:24
  • A new site is less susceptible to such network conventions @Anne Daunted. I did observe a very few questions on IPS that got closed; reopened within 2 hours without any editing; and closed again within an hour by another 5 users! But those are exceptional cases and most closed questions either remain closed, or else get reopened after editing to make it a much better question for IPS. It is worth comparing by finding out how many closed questions on IPS.SE have actually been reopened without substantial corrective editing. However I don't know what's the easiest way it could be accomplished. Nov 2 '17 at 13:31
  • @EnglishStudent "When a member casts a reopen vote without substantial corrective editing, they are expressing disagreement with the original close reason. That is why no further editing is necessary." Why is the opinion of the reopen voter, that no further editing is necessary, worth more than the opinion of the close voter that more is necessary? Nov 2 '17 at 14:28
  • Any opinions expressed by reopening a question remain relevant only if the reopened question remains open. If the question remains open we have good reason to assume that the community has accepted reopening the question without major corrective editing. The situation changes dramatically when another 5 members vote to close again @Anne Daunted. In a democratic community like Stack Exchange that is 10 votes for closure and 5 votes against so the matter is decided in favor of closure and the Q should remain closed till it is substantially edited to remove all possible objections to reopening. Nov 2 '17 at 14:41
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    @EnglishStudent that "point of etiquette" doesn't exist. People argue about CVs all the time.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Nov 2 '17 at 14:50
  • You are far more experienced than me on Stack Exchange websites. So, thanks for clarifying @Catija. What is the best way to find out how many closed questions on IPS.SE were actually reopened without substantial corrective editing? Nov 2 '17 at 15:08
  • @EnglishStudent So if 5 people vote to close, just 5 people decided something. If 5 people decide to vote to reopen, then the community decided. Only if another 5 people (i. e. 10 in total) vote to close again, did the community finally decide that editing is necessary. And, as you noted earlier, if a reopen voter disagrees with a close voter, it means that "no further editing is necessary". Is that correct? Nov 2 '17 at 15:14
  • If 5 people voted to reopen then just 5 people decided, same as close voting @Anne Daunted. Reopen voting reverses close voting and restores the question to the original open state, but the question will remain open only if the community accepts the reopening. May I also clarify my earlier statement by saying that if a reopen voter disagrees with the close reason, they are likely to think the question is answerable as it is, and also think (but may be unlikely to explain in a comment why) no further editing is necessary. Nov 2 '17 at 15:37
  • @EnglishStudent this seems doable, if you look in PostHistory table you can see the life of a post (Closure, Edits, Reopens). So you can look for questions which have all 3 in order. A little bit of a pain in the (ahem), but doable. When I have some time I'll see if I can get you a proper query for it.
    – akaioi
    Nov 2 '17 at 15:45
  • @EnglishStudent Thanks for clarifying what you meant earlier. Maybe the reopen voters should wonder why the close voters closed the question and if improvement of the question would maybe yield the OP more and better answers. After all, a question of higher quality, that more clearly expresses the OP's problem and further narrows it down, may lead to higher quality answer, that are more useful to the OP. And that's what the OP is probably here for, anyway. And answerable is hardly a sufficient criterion as basically all questions are answerable (at least those posted here). Nov 2 '17 at 15:46
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There is no "correct" procedure.

Voting to reopen a question will move it into the "reopen queue" that users with sufficient reputation (500 rep on beta sites) will be able to see and vote on whether the post should be reopened or not.

That's all you need to do.

If you want to better understand why the question was closed, how it can be improved, or draw attention to it for reopening, you can ask about it on meta but it's not necessary. I also generally recommend waiting at least a few hours if not a day or so for it to be reopened without a meta post. Give users the time to see it on their own before bringing it to meta. You don't have to... but it's what I recommend.

On most sites, I'd estimate the majority of posts go through the close/reopen process without ever seeing meta.

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Specifically, is it required/customary to back up a "reopen" vote with a meta question[...]?

It is certainly not required, and it is customary only when you need discussion as a significant component of getting the question reopened.

In my experience, however, asking on meta for reopening of your own or somebody else's closed question, after casting your reopen vote, will definitely speed up the reopen process if the question is worth reopening.

This is more important for a site like English.SE where a huge number of questions can get closed each day and you need to draw user attention to a question that needs to be reopened.

On Interpersonal.SE, the review of your first 'leading' reopen vote by reopen-enabled members is so brisk and systematic that simply casting a reopen vote sets the question on the track to quick reopening, provided 4 users agree with you that the question was either closed without good enough reason or has since been sufficiently edited to solve the reason for closure. If it is a borderline case that needs discussion to convince users, then it is a very good case for starting a meta question.

Finally, meta questions are almost always the best option to get a question reopened if you are the OP. By which I mean to say that you need that meta post to not only convince members but also get crucial feedback, especially from the original close-voters, in order to know what you need to do to get your question reopened. This is not like just casting a reopen vote on somebody's closed question, which may or may not find 4 supporting votes for reopening. You have to actively pursue all possible means to correct major defects to get your question reopened.

It's a general point of etiquette followed on many Stack Exchange sites that users will not contradict the wisdom of 5 close voters unless the question was substantially edited to improve, or closed by a clear case of error. When an early Q of mine was closed on English.SE in April 2017, a senior member advised me that

it is much easier to close a question than to get it reopened, because once a Q is closed by 5 voters or a moderator, 5 other voters or another moderator will need very compelling reasons to vote to reopen.

In short it's a matter of site policy and etiquette, and not a matter of opinion: a closed Q is rarely reopened without significant corrective editing. Appropriate editing followed by substantial constructive discussion on meta is very useful towards convincing members to vote to reopen.

It is also my experience that close voting is exceptionally fair, constructive and consistent on many Stack Exchange websites: if you raise a meta question and demonstrate how your own or another OP's question has been edited and improved to clear the objections that got it closed in the first place, most of the close-voters will themself vote to reopen the question.

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You don't have to open a meta to ask for reopening, however doing so allows people to give thorough suggestion how to improve your question. It also tend to draw attention of meta users, so you can have more reopen votes if you can convince them to reopen your question.


  1. Gives you more space to defend your question, rather than arguing in the comments.
  2. Gives people more space to suggest improvement to your question.
  3. More chance to gather reopen votes, if you can sufficiently convince people.

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